Revisionist History: Denny’s thoughts on the Bears

Posted by Darren Urban on June 28, 2011 – 5:18 pm

The latest in a series of offseason posts looking back:

What I remember most is that it seemed to come out of nowhere.

Before the tirade that let everyone remember Denny Green was who we thought he was, we had already gone through five or six minutes of his postgame press conference on that fateful Monday night. It had been an ugly ending, but Denny – who usually was grumpy with an edge after losses – seemed calm, almost shell shocked as the questions came.

Then came the query that set him off, a question that should have led Denny to a good place – one about what the Cards saw in the Bears’ offense that allowed the defense to dominate and forced QB Rex Grossman into six turnovers. Like a boulder rolling downhill, Green started slow and as the anger built, the response grew into its epic ending, when Green bellowed how the Cards “let ‘em off the hook!”

Quick side story – Denny had a similar moment in training camp that year. The day rookie holdout Matt Leinart finally signed, two weeks into camp, tension was building on when he would do so. I was told Green was going to go off on Leinart in his lunchtime presser, and lo and behold, that’s what happened. Denny was asked about how linebacker Karlos Dansby’s injury was doing. A five-minute monologue later, Green was talking about what a shame it was that Leinart wouldn’t play in New England that weekend for the preseason game, when Kurt Warner would and when Tom Brady would, and Green clearly was irritated Leinart wasn’t there. Wonder if Denny knew Leinart was about to sign? Regardless, I don’t see the Bears’ rant as that calculated.

But back to the crowning moment in Denny’s Arizona tenure. The roots of the speech came back in August – a week after that New England trip – when the Cards beat the Bears in the third preseason game in Chicago and both Warner and Leinart played well. Grossman was terrible against the Cards, so much so that the Chicago fans booed him relentlessly. That was what was rattling around Green’s mind less than two months later.

The Cards were already ornery because of how things were going. After winning the first regular-season game at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Cards had lost four straight. Warner had been benched for Leinart. The Bears were coming to town with a 5-0 record. The big story during the week was actually Darnell Dockett signing a contract extension (although Leinart’s first start the previous week against the Chiefs caught everyone’s attention.)

Bears coach Lovie Smith was asked about Leinart’s good game in the preseason and talked about that game meaning nothing, as a “glorified practice.” Green, hearing this, clearly didn’t agree and said as much, although it wasn’t exactly “who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s bull.” At least, not yet.

Then came the game. The Cards dominated, and they lost. Green calmly answered most of the questions and then the one hit him the wrong way, especially with the leftover irritation with Smith’s comments percolating all week and the frustration of the season building (for instance, kicker Neil Rackers missing what should have been a game-winning field goal that night).

While the world watched – over and over – Denny’s rant and it was repeated everywhere, the fallout was quick. Offensive coordinator Keith Rowen was demoted the next day. The Cards’ season ran off the rails, and by the time the Bears made it to the Super Bowl, Green was out and Ken Whisenhunt was the coach. Super week, Denny’s words continued to echo, as everyone kept saying, in some way shape or form, the Bears were who we thought they were.

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21 Responses to “Revisionist History: Denny’s thoughts on the Bears”

  1. By BIG RED on Jun 28, 2011 | Reply

    That was the start of the Whiz era, and some happy times. Thank You Coach Green.

  2. By BobF on Jun 28, 2011 | Reply

    Well, at least the Cards have another spot in football history.

  3. By Eazy E on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    I remember that game like it was yesterday. The loss hurt that night too.

  4. By LB on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Darren. Assuming the reports are accurate and we end up with 4th year free agents, what would that mean in terms of retaining our players.Who would be affected on our team and who would be at risk of leaving?

    Thanks ahead for the answer.

  5. By Darren Urban on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    LB —

    RE: Free agent rules

    If the rules allow for players with four years of service to be unrestricted free agents, the following would be among the UFAs: Broughton, Wright, Breaston, Patrick, Lutui, Sendlein, Branch, Robinson, Watson, Ware, McBride, Graham.

    RFAs would include Hightower, Doucet, Keith, Iwebema, Adams.

  6. By bluepitt on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    here is a good one:
    D, I was wondering what your thoughts on ol matt going in to that game. He did do pretty well vs KC and flat out balled VS DA Bears and that D they had.
    Second question. If Whiz had been stubborn and continued with Matty win loose or draw, do you think he would have developed in to a good QB for us?
    I promise I wont attack your opinion, (Im over the QB crap and just hoping for a season) It just seems that he had the tools and was a good rook, and then just fell apart when Warner took over.

    People can say all they want that when Matt got pissey over his benching that showed he was not ready, but Pro’s are an honery bunch. I can remember tons of HOFers doing the same thing!

  7. By Darren Urban on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    Bluepitt —

    RE: Monday Night Meltdown

    I thought, after the Chiefs and Bears games — his first two starts — that Leinart was going to be a good NFL quarterback.

    No way of knowing about what could have been with Matt. I do think something happened to Leinart over the years with Warner’s emergence (and Whiz’s arrival) that caused him to lose the confidence that I think was such a big part of his game. He had no fear that first season (and frankly, no pressure either, on a bad team). I have said before, I don’t think it was Leinart’s attitude that got him cut. It was his attitude given the fact he wasn’t playing well enough. If you play well, many things are forgiven. When you don’t play well, it’s just a reason for the powers-that-be to move on (and really, that goes for every job there is, pro athlete or not).

  8. By jocards on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    The Green tirade though quite memorable pales in comparison to a lesser known one….The one I put on in my living room after Rackers missed. Yelling, throwing things, kicking things and the locally infamous tossing of the heavy ottoman that were it not for a fortuitous bounce that allowed me to down it just inside the door frame would’ve gone right through the glass slider! Not one of my proudest moments.

  9. By Peter in Canada on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    Darren- I really liked your response to Bluepitt, although I would have said “Warner’s re-emergence”. I have found it amazing how quickly two teams were to write off Warner, totally forgetting those three record breaking seasons he had from 1999-2001. Then came all the injuries and suddenly he couldn’t play football any more. By the time he arrived here he was so much past tense that if Leinart had shown anything his career would have been over. What a pity for him and us if that had been the case.

  10. By Scott H on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    There’s a night I’d like to forget. That may have been Leinart’s best day ever as a Cardinal. He was very good that night and I actually remember him reacting with disgust after the game was over and thought to my self, “Good for you. kid. This loss was not your fault and if I were you, I’d be pissed off, too.” Coaching and play calling were pretty much 100% responsible for that loss. When the Cards were being aggressive and attacking on offense, the Bears could not stop them. They moved the ball at will and it looked like they could have blown the Bears out if they stayed with what was working. Then, they stopped attacking and tried to “hide” from the Bears for the rest of the night by pounding the ball on the ground. Trouble is, they were pounding themselves right into a brick wall. I was pulling my friggin hair out, I swear. You could see what eventually happened coming like a car crash in slow motion. Anyway…whatever. We STILL could have won the damn game if Rackers could have made a 41-yard FG late…of course, he choked.

    Darren – I remember James having one of the most ridiculous stat lines I’ve ever seen that night and it underscored just how criminally bad the play-calling was. Didn’t he have some thing like 55 rushes for only about 72 yards or something like that??? By my math, that’s less than 1 yard per carry..

  11. By Darren Urban on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Edge

    Close. He had 36 rushes for 55 yards.

  12. By Scott H on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    bluepitt –

    Remember when Boomer Esiason was benched in favor of Ken Graham and he responded by cleaning out his locker and walking out?

  13. By Miles Johnson on Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

    I remember that game like yesterday, i went over to my dad to watch the game and i remember the 4th quarter coming up and my dad looks at me and telling me how shock he was that the cardinals pulled this upset, all i did was look back at him and said that the cardinals will find a way to lose this game and they did.

  14. By Eazy E on Jun 30, 2011 | Reply

    We kept running and it wasn’t successful and our passing was pretty much unstoppable. Leinart had it going that night, unfortunately for the cardinals, he had very few games like that.

  15. By Scott H on Jun 30, 2011 | Reply

    Oops. Thanks, darren. My munbers were way off. Well, wrong numbers but my proportions were correct. Geez, the way things were going that night, James would have needed about 55 rushes to get to 72 yards!

  16. By beardinals on Oct 16, 2014 | Reply

    WOW! Only 8 years ago. So timeless, it could have been 50 years.

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